Over the years, the development of renewable energy in Germany has been, foremost, on the basis of the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG). Whereas traditionally the German scheme for renewable energy relied on fixed feed-in tariffs provided under the EEG, the current version – the EEG 20172 – has shifted the framework to an auction system for the more significant onshore forms of renewable energy production (wind energy and large-scale photovoltaic solar installations (solar PV)). Tenders for offshore wind energy are subject to a separate law, the Code on the Development and Support of Wind Energy at Sea.
The main drivers, and the focus of both investment and financing, in renewable energy in Germany are onshore wind energy, solar PV and – specifically because of its very large project volumes – offshore wind energy. Biogas and biomass played a more significant role in previous years. There are also some utility-scale geothermal projects to be seen, as well as some hydropower projects.
Because of fundamental errors in the design of the EEG 2017 auction system,5 newly installed capacity in offshore wind in Germany only reached a level of 2,400MW in 2018 (compared to 5,000MW of newly installed capacity in 2017). At the end of 2018, 29,213 onshore wind turbines were operative in Germany with an overall rated power of 53GW.6 Newly installed capacity for solar PV in 2018 in Germany has outperformed onshore wind energy, with 2.81GWp of new capacity (compared to 1.66GWp in 2017). At the end of 2018, Germany had a total installed solar PV capacity of 45.9GWp, with more than 1.6 million installations7 of all types (from small domestic household installations to utility scale).8 By comparison, Germany has 2.36 million (mostly small-scale) solar thermal installations, with a total capacity of 14.4GWth.9 In the past year, 140 new offshore wind turbine generators were installed, with a rated power total of 970MW (compared to 1,250MW in 2017). Overall, offshore wind energy in Germany accounts for a rated power of 6.38GW, which is slightly above one third of the total installed capacity for offshore wind in Europe.
In 2018, approximately 17 per cent of the overall energy consumption in Germany was satisfied from renewable energy sources (of which, in turn, 53 per cent was accountable to electricity, 40 per cent to heat and 7 per cent to biofuels and traffic or mobility). Renewable energy in Germany had a share of 37.8 per cent in the satisfaction of the overall electricity consumption in Germany in 2018 (compared with 36 per cent in 2017).
In 2018, Germany saw fewer renewable energy transactions for newly developed projects, mainly on account of the significant reduction of newly installed capacity in the onshore wind sector. German investors and German financing banks have therefore put more focus on international business and projects outside Germany, mainly within Europe.